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Gospels/synagogue Link


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Through several of Bishop Spongs books he makes the case for the synoptic gospels being written for use in the synagogue. More specifically that Mark was written to span synagogue worship throught a liturgical year and then Matthew and Luke expanding Mark to fill a calendar year.

 

Does anyone know of a graphic (or somethign similar) that may exist (or maybe even having been laid out by one of you) that shows the Jewish holidays/festivals aligned with the gospel stories of Jesus along some sort of a common grid or parallel matrix?

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Vin,

 

I am not aware of any such matrix. FWIW, after reading his book, I asked an acquaintance who was a professor of religion (at a large state university) whose specialty was 2nd-Temple Judaism and early Christianity what he thought of this theory. He said he was familiar with it, but "it did not have much of an academic following."

 

George

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Thanks for the response and added comment. I had wondered how the academic realm felt about the theory. I must say that it does somewhat intrigue me. I was hoping to view a grid/matrix of the theory to see how it fits for myself. It's one thing to read it as it is laid out. It can be quite another to see it all laid out and then judge. I suppose I may just have to lay one out myself for analysis. Thanks again.

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Dutch,

 

A good and appropriate link. Thanks.

 

The following statement at the bottom of the page may explain why I was told what I was:

 

"Over the years various attempts have been made to show a sequential correlation of Mark or other gospels to one or more forms of Jewish synagogue lectionary or, more loosely, to the Jewish liturgical year.1 None of these has been generally accepted,2 and some scholars have concluded that the whole enterprise is doomed to failure."

 

George

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I really enjoying reading Bishop Spong and I think he has provided so much in the way of looking at the bible through different lenses. So it is with the deepest respect for him and not in any sense ridiculing him, that I recall Margus Borg saying words to the effect that Spong is brilliant at pulling things apart, but not neccessarily as accomplished putting them back together again. Perhaps this is one of those areas that he doesn't reassemble quite as adequately.

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I really enjoying reading Bishop Spong and I think he has provided so much in the way of looking at the bible through different lenses. So it is with the deepest respect for him and not in any sense ridiculing him, that I recall Margus Borg saying words to the effect that Spong is brilliant at pulling things apart, but not neccessarily as accomplished putting them back together again. Perhaps this is one of those areas that he doesn't reassemble quite as adequately.

 

While Bishop Spong is certainly knowledgeable about the Bible, he is not inerrant. And, he is first and foremost a theologian which, IMO, can influence the objectivity of his scholarship.

 

Having said this, I absolutely support his campaign against biblical literalism and his advocacy for tolerance on social issues like sexism and gay rights.

 

George

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It seems to me there is a certain amount of logic in Bishop Spong's opinions.

1. The large majority of Christians in the first century were Jewish

2. If they observed the sabbath, they attended a synagogue (churches and clergy as we know them did not exist)

3. The synagogue attendees had to be convinced that Jesus was real and that his teachings were valid and fulfilled the Old testaments's prophecies.

4. The synagogue ceremonies had to have a liturgy if they were to be heard

5. Why is this so unacceptable?

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Hal,

 

I am not sure that there "had" to be a specific liturgy followed by all synagogues. If so, there should be some evidence of it and apparently there is none or someone, including Bishop Spong, would have cited it.

 

Also, it is worth noting that synagogue worship did not have a long history at that time. I think the oldest ones discovered were a couple of hundred years BCE. There is no mention in the Hebrew Scriptures of synagogue worship. As I recall synagogue worship took off after destruction of the 2nd Temple (70 CE)) and the beginning of rabbinical Judaism.

 

George

 

Update:

I checked to see what Murphy ("Early Judaism: The Exile to the Time of Jesus") has to say about synagogues. He says that not much is known about them before the 1st century. He says. "Archaeology does not help much since no building predating the first century can clearly claim to a synagogue [...] The synagogue most probably predates the first century, but little is known about it."

 

Of course they are mentioned in the NT and by Josephus (37-100 CE) and Philo (20 BCE- 50CE).

 

But, my point is that this was not a well established institution in Judaism at the time the Gospels were written with established clergy, liturgies and the like.

Edited by GeorgeW
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I guess I will have to go back and re-read Bishop Spong's book "Liberating The Gospels". When I first read it, it seemed to make good sense, but what do I know?

 

I am somewhat leery about professional theologians, most of them still believe in a three-tiered universe.

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  • 3 months later...

VinD:

 

Your interest in "synoptic gospels being written for use in the synagogue" makes me believe Amy-Jill Levine's The Jewish Annonotated New Testament might be of interest. It explains some previous confusion putting things into contemporary Jewish perspective. This doesn't answer your question as to the Gospels in Synagogue, but it may answer some questions how Jewish/Christian writings converged or diverged.

 

Ron

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